Sabbath, December 16, 2017
“I urge you to prepare for the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. Day by day cast the love of the world out of your hearts. Understand by experience what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Prepare for the judgment, that when Christ shall come to be admired in all them that believe, you may be among those who will meet Him in peace. In that day the redeemed will shine forth in the glory of the Father and the Son.” –The Adventist Home, p. 550.
1. According to the Spirit of prophecy, what event did Jesus describe immediately after telling about the fall of Jerusalem? What was going to happen during the long centuries between Jerusalem’s destruction and Jesus’ return?
Matthew 24:21, 22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
“From the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ passed on rapidly to the greater event, the last link in the chain of this earth’s history–the coming of the Son of God in majesty and glory. Between these two events, there lay open to Christ’s view long centuries of darkness, centuries for His church marked with blood and tears and agony. Upon these scenes His disciples could not then endure to look, and Jesus passed them by with a brief mention…. For more than a thousand years such persecution as the world had never before known was to come upon Christ’s followers. Millions upon millions of His faithful witnesses were to be slain. Had not God’s hand been stretched out to preserve His people, all would have perished. ‘But for the elect’s sake,’ He said, ‘those days shall be shortened.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 630, 631.
Do not believe everyone
2. Who will become popular before Jesus’ coming? What strange claims will they make, and what will they show to gain credibility and popularity?
Matthew 24:23-26 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25Behold, I have told you before. 26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
“Now, in unmistakable language, our Lord speaks of His second coming, and He gives warning of dangers to precede His advent to the world…. As one of the signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, Christ had said, ‘Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.’ False prophets did rise, deceiving the people, and leading great numbers into the desert…. But this prophecy was spoken also for the last days. This sign is given as a sign of the second advent. Even now false christs and false prophets are showing signs and wonders to seduce His disciples…. Have not thousands gone forth into the desert, hoping to find Christ? And from thousands of gatherings where men profess to hold communion with departed spirits is not the call now heard, ‘Behold, He is in the secret chambers’? This is the very claim that spiritism puts forth. But what says Christ? ‘Believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 631.
His coming will be unmistakable
3. What illustration did Jesus use to explain that His coming would not be a hidden mystery but a great and glorious manifestation that no one can avoid?
Matthew 24:27, 28 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
“Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud,… In solemn silence they [God’s people] gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant…. With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way…. As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. No crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun. ‘And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.’ Revelation 19:16.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 640, 641.
Signs in the heavens
4. Before the Lord’s appearance, what extraordinary events would attract everyone’s attention?
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
Luke 21: 25, first part And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.
“At the close of the great papal persecution, Christ declared, the sun should be darkened, and the moon should not give her light. Next, the stars should fall from heaven. And He says, ‘Learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that He is near, even at the doors.’ Matthew 24:32, 33, margin.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 631, 632.
“In Matthew 24, in answer to the question of His disciples concerning the sign of His coming and of the end of the world, Christ had pointed out some of the most important events in the history of the world and of the church from His first to His second advent; namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, the great tribulation of the church under the pagan and papal persecutions, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars.” –The Great Controversy, p. 393.
5. What terrible conditions will exist among the nations of earth, and what events in nature will signal the glorious return of the King of kings?
Luke 21:25, last part, 26 … And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Mark 13:24-26 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
“Prophecy not only foretells the manner and object of Christ’s coming, but presents tokens by which men are to know when it is near…. The revelator thus describes the first of the signs to precede the second advent: ‘There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.’ Revelation 6:12.
“… In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland…. In Africa the shock was almost as severe as in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed; and a short distance from Morocco, a village containing eight or ten thousand inhabitants was swallowed up. A vast wave swept over the coast of Spain and Africa engulfing cities and causing great destruction.” –The Great Controversy, p. 304.
The sign of the Son of man
6. After all these extraordinary events, what sign will appear in heaven? Who will then be manifested in great glory and majesty, thus riveting the attention of the whole world?
Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
“Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man’s hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man.” –The Great Controversy, p. 640.
“They will see Him then as heaven’s King. Christ will come in His own glory, in the glory of His Father, and the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful and triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort Him on His way. Then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations. Then every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him. In the place of a crown of thorns, He will wear a crown of glory–a crown within a crown. In place of that old purple kingly robe, He will be clothed in raiment of whitest white, ‘so as no fuller on earth can white them.’ Mark 9:3. And on His vesture and on His thigh a name will be written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’ Revelation 19:16.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 739.
7. What impressive sound will engulf the earth as the angels gather God’s elect from around the world? Describe your thoughts about those glorious moments.
Matthew 24:31; 13:39, last part, 41-43 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…. 13:39The reapers are the angels…. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
“And the Saviour declares: ‘They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ ‘For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Matthew 24:30, 27.” –The Great Controversy, p. 321.
“The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Every faithful one will surely be gathered. ‘He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ Matthew 24:31.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 404.
“Christ has declared that He will come the second time to gather His faithful ones to Himself….” –The Great Controversy, p. 37.
For additional study
“Christ has given signs of His coming. He says that we may know when He is near, even at the doors. When the trees put forth their leaves in the spring, we know that summer is near. Just so surely, when the signs appear in the sun and the moon and the stars, we are to know that Christ’s coming is near.” –The Story of Jesus, p. 176.
“The Lion of Judah, so terrible to the rejectors of His grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of fire that speaks terror and wrath to the transgressor of God’s law, is a token of light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept His commandments. The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Everyone who is faithful will be saved. ‘He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ ” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 358.